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How Employees Can “Manage Up” in Our New Remote Work Environment

Our new workplace reality: Conference call dial-in codes. Looking presentable on your morning team meeting that’s now on Zoom. Juggling kids who are home from school for the foreseeable future and begging for snacks. All this while emotionally absorbing the severity of what’s happening across the world.

As employees in the age of COVID-19, so many of us are struggling to navigate the challenges of remote work. And while we will return to our regular workplaces eventually, this abrupt transition to remote work will likely spark many organizations to consider the expansion or evolution of their work-from-home policies.

This “new normal” of remote team communication requires an entirely new way of functioning – especially when it comes to talking about sensitive, nuanced issues.

Think about asking for a promotion, needing to raise a performance issue, or talking to your manager about shifting your workday schedule to accommodate kids at home. How does all of this manifest in this remote workplace reality?

Here at Vyond, we recently teamed up with True Global Intelligence and asked 1,000 employees at large enterprises in the U.S. how comfortable they feel speaking up to managers, or “managing up”, the trait that helps us excel in our careers, but that no one ever explicitly teaches.

Our research identified a significant training gap: 42% of employees said they would be interested in receiving training on managing up, but only 28% of employees have received training on this topic. And as a generation, millennials are particularly craving guidance, with 50% expressing a desire for training on managing up.

 VyondTheSurface managing up 


Speaking with your manager about sensitive topics is hard enough – now, think about doing it over the phone or video chat. In our remote work environment, we’re now tasked with handling these conversations without being able to adequately gauge body language and facial cues to help guide the conversation. Plus, there’s an element of urgency to consider. These important conversations can’t and shouldn’t wait, especially when it comes to issues like performance and pay.

So what can you do now to help employees prepare? To start, consider offering remote training that specifically addresses how employees can navigate these tough talks in a virtual setting.

Managing Up – and Freeing Up Your Calendar

One situation where “managing up” training comes in handy is this: your schedule being overrun with meetings.

Have you ever asked yourself – why couldn’t this meeting have been an email? We may share memes on social media or complain to similarly beleaguered colleagues, but what if we could actually speak up about it to our managers – and ultimately make a difference?


Workplace attitudes VyondTheSurface

Most respondents associated their workplaces with positive or neutral feelings


When we asked our survey respondents whether they feel comfortable talking to their superiors about changing the number of meetings on their calendars, we found that two-thirds (65%) of those with no direct reports have not tried to bring this issue up with their boss. Some groups are more likely than others to bring up the topic – for example, we found men are more likely to have successfully tried to change the number of meetings they have (33% of men vs. 21% of women), while women are more likely to not have tried at all (46% of women vs. 36% of men).


What Can Organizations Do About It?

Conversations with superiors, whether about promotions or reducing the number of meetings, are tricky for even the most seasoned employees to tackle. One way for leadership teams and HR to help employees feel prepared is through training. And now that so many of us are working from home, how this training is implemented matters more than ever. Our survey found the most preferred type of training among employees is self-led online training (51%), compared to instructor-led training and one-on-one coaching. This is heartening, as self-led eLearning is a critical component of training and managing a remote team.


VyondTheSurface workplace attitudes

Men are more likely than women to describe their workplace as flexible and professional


Videos are a valuable resource in conducting remote training and can be easily incorporated into your existing learning content. Creating your own videos with a tool like Vyond ensures they are branded for and tailored to your organization. Videos are extremely engaging, accessible, and adaptable and are a great way to arm your employees with the soft skills they need to confidently manage up.

We’ve made a video template in Vyond on how to have difficult conversations with your manager so you can quickly implement your own remote training, customized to your needs. Click here to access the template and for instructions on how to use it.


The transition from working in an office to spending your entire day at home is not an easy one. We encourage you to hang in there and do the best you can in this new remote work environment. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and not just your to-do list. Take time away from your work, incorporate healthy meals and movement if you can, and connect with your loved ones.

We’d love to continue this conversation on social media and hear how you’re adapting to your new remote life, or if you have other ideas for crucial training in this new world order, don’t hesitate to share. You can find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.